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Behind the Counter of Passion: A Candid Conversation with a Sex Shop Owner

Today, we're excited to present an insightful conversation with Simon, co-owner of Adult Bliss Erotica in Australia. Simon, along with Monique, who together helm this pioneering venture, have been instrumental in the sexual wellness industry and were early supporters of our Jelqing Balm. Although our discussion today is solely with Simon, the insights shared represent the ethos and journey of both partners in shaping the conversation around sexual health and empowerment. Through a series of questions, we delve into their business's evolution, Simon's personal experiences, and their collective perspectives on the future of sexual wellness.

The Conversation

Gerónimo: Let's start at the beginning. How did Adult Bliss come into being, and what was your inspiration?

Simon: Adult Bliss Erotica has been around for over 20 years, it started in a small boutique location in Darlington South Australia. Back in 2011, My parents bought the shop from the original owner and eventually expanded it to three locations before selling up prior to retirement. Monique and I purchased the flagship store, which at the time was the Glen Osmond location, back in 2018 and we have endeavoured to turn the store into a community hub for sexual health products, sexual education and BDSM gear.

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Gerónimo: It's quite intriguing to learn about Adult Bliss's evolution, particularly your emphasis on community and education in sexual wellness. Reflecting on this journey and your extensive experience, how do you perceive the role of sex in today's society? Has this perspective changed for you since your early days at Adult Bliss?

Simon: I think sex has always meant the same thing for society, it’s always been an action of empowerment, something that should bring people joy and in a lot of ways independence, pleasure and freedom. The problem is historically certain people have used sex (more importantly shame around sex) to persecute people from all different backgrounds, and I think that is really changing now. We are seeing a huge transition away from that constrictive way of thinking and people are becoming much more willing to embrace sexual positivity! 

Gerónimo: That's a powerful observation about the shift towards embracing sexual positivity and freedom. In light of this transition, what role do you think sex shops like Adult Bliss play in furthering the education and normalization of sexuality in our society?

Simon: Sex shops like ours play a huge role in the normalization of sex, masturbation and personal pleasure in general because it’s giving people an avenue to connect with their bodies and inner selves. I think it’s one of the most important steps in someone's journey of sexual liberation and self-pleasure destigmatization. Stores like ours show people that there is something out there for everyone and your sexual desires are just as “weird” and “awkward” as everyone else's, which makes them perfectly normal and valid! 

Gerónimo: Understanding the role your store plays in normalizing various aspects of sexuality, I'm curious – have there been any noticeable changes in the buying patterns of your customers over the years?

Simon: Oh yeah! The world has truly changed just in the past 5 years! One thing we always see that surprises a lot of folks is how many people prefer to shop in-store rather than online in our industry. The issue with sex toys is you can’t just return them if they aren't right for you, and they aren't a cheap investment. This is why adult stores like ours have products on display, you can come in and get a feel for how they work and what they look like up close before you purchase. This gives customers a lot more confidence in their purchases, especially when you have a product expert in the room willing to help you if you have any questions, you just can’t get that sort of expertise online. 

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Gerónimo: That's an interesting point about the preference for in-store shopping, especially with the unique considerations for sex toys. Given this trend, could you share which products or categories have gained more popularity recently in your store? And what do you think is driving this increased interest?

Simon: One of the product categories that is growing in popularity is penis/prostate/pelvic-floor sexual health products. Things like; Pumps, C-rings, Extenders, and Products like Jelq2Grow for example. Folks with penises are getting a lot better at recognising the benefits of spending time on their sexual health and performance and it shows in the data. The other category we are seeing a lot of movement in is strap-on harnesses. This is mostly due to a growing interest in pegging but also a lot more products specifically designed for same-sex couples and trans folk

Gerónimo: It's fascinating to see the evolving interests in products like penis/prostate health items and strap-on harnesses, reflecting a broader shift in sexual health awareness. With these changes in consumer interests and the industry at large, I'm curious to know how running Adult Bliss has impacted your own personal lives and views on sexuality.

Simon: I think Monique and I have really embraced the industry in more ways than we ever thought we would. Mostly though, running a business can be super stressful and they can have a huge impact on our sex life. Since coming into the industry both of us have really come to terms with our sexuality being more fluid and “on a spectrum” than I think either of us ever thought before. We have managed to shed a lot of shame around sex and pleasure too and it’s given us the opportunity to have a more open and honest dialogue about all things in our lives, not just sex and intimacy. This is one of our pillars; we try to impart that to our customers as much as we can! 

Gerónimo: Hearing about your personal journey in this industry is quite eye-opening. On a more practical note, what kind of challenges have you guys run into while running Adult Bliss, and how've you tackled them?

Simon: Industry discrimination is huge!! Despite all the work and progress, we have seen over the years we still have to jump through hoops when it comes to finance, insurance, government agencies, local councils, marketing platforms like FB and Google, and dealing with police prejudice. Mostly the work we do is rewarding enough to outweigh a lot of that. Overcoming this is mostly an exercise in patience, we have an industry union “EROS” who are a lobbying group that provides us with legal support and professional advice, but we know change doesn’t happen overnight. 

Gerónimo: That's quite a journey with all those hurdles! So, what's next on the horizon for Adult Bliss? Any exciting plans or changes you're looking forward to?

Simon: From a community point of view, we are planning on expanding on our workshops and the education side of things, possibly setting up online workshops and moving forward with a podcast at some stage. From the business side of things, we haven’t got anything huge on the agenda. Mostly store renovations and working on making the store more visible and accessible.

Gerónimo: Love the workshop and podcast ideas! Any new trends in sexual wellness catching your eye lately?

Simon: Everything that’s been dropping over the past years has been really exciting. We are seeing so much technology coming out in our industry, making products more accessible and integrating them into relationships. Accessibility is one thing we are really focusing on at the moment, there is a huge barrier to sex toys for people with disabilities, and that has been changing slowly over the years, but we have seen a huge uptick in this as a focus from manufacturers recently! 

Gerónimo: That's really cool progress with tech and accessibility. So, how do you see tech changing the game for sex and intimacy going forward?

Simon: Technology has completely changed the game! On the one hand, some innovations have been a complete flop. on the other hand… App compatibility has been huge! People are connecting virtually over priority apps designed to give users more control than ever, a great flow on effect of this is long-distance intimacy. With compatible devices and certain brands you can actually control your partner's sex toy from anywhere in the world using this software and it's honestly amazing how it brings people closer together. This also lends itself to virtual sex with products that are not only app-compatible but can communicate with each other and react to partners' user input!  Advances in battery technology make these products last longer between charges and give the product a huge boost to performance and longevity. 

Gerónimo: Wow, tech's really changing things up! So, who's your usual crowd at Adult Bliss? What's their vibe in terms of age and background?

Simon: These days the most general term for the types of people we see is “Couples”, people in a relationship looking for products that can increase their excitement and pleasure. We see people from 18 right up to people in their 70’s and 80’s. Whether they’re here for a gift for a partner, or visiting our store together for a shared experience, it's probably more than 60% of our customers. We’re also seeing a lot of young people coming in in groups and hearing them talk about products, share information and anecdotes with each other, and generally lift each other up is such a heartwarming shift in the social dialogue around sex positivity. 

Gerónimo: It's great to hear that couples and groups of young people are finding a welcoming space at Adult Bliss. Given this mix of customers, have you noticed any broader shifts in the demographics of your clientele over time?

Simon: I think the biggest shift we’ve seen is more in the attitudes of the people coming in. We used to get a lot of cis straight guys coming in for their partners because their partner was just too embarrassed to come in, this is happening less and less now! It’s also great to see our generation (Gen Y&X) and younger (Gen Z) taking sexual health and the importance of intimacy more seriously than we’ve seen from previous generations!  

Today's enlightening conversation with Simon and Monique from Adult Bliss Erotica is just the beginning of our exploration into the diverse and evolving world of sexual wellness. Their story is a compelling example of how a business can reflect and influence societal attitudes towards sexuality. Stay tuned for more articles like this, where we'll delve into transformative stories in this field and other captivating topics, expanding our perspectives and embracing the nuances of these important conversations.


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